Let’s face it. There have been some great executions of social marketing and more often some very poor implementations. And I would profess there is one common element of the successful ones. Doing what is not expected. A little surprise or exclusivity.
We often hear a number of social strategists talk about providing exclusive information, promotions, pictures, or other media on the social channels where you want to attract a following. I think it is important to raise this mentality up one level. Social marketing is not about the creation and success on a social media channel. Social marketing is about getting your brand socialized and generating word-of-mouth recognition and referral from your target audience. The channel is far less important then the word-of-mouth action. We do not look to contrive advocacy on a specific channel, but rather spark and provoke sharing in the most natural way based on target market behavior and their usage.
And another word of caution … Everyone is in search of the holy grail of making something go viral. If you start out with this objective, I guarantee you, you are playing in fantasy. And even worse, if you find something that has had viral success and attempt to copy it, you are doomed for failure.
So forget about a channel strategy or making something viral to begin with. Think about how you are going to deliver the unexpected to your market. A great example of this is Tony Hsieh’s and Zappo’s approach to overachieving customer expectations – over delivering. They always seem to pleasantly surprise me. I always receive my shoes a day before they promise they will be there. It is this customer experience that opens me up to turn to them as a recommendation source, a social source.
Another example for you … While doing some due diligence and research for one of the CPG brands I work with, I found a simple, but excellent execution. It started with a particular brand monitored for mentions of their product. When an advocate mentioned that they loved their product on Twitter, the brand, unexpectedly, sent that person a free t-shirt and other brand trinkets. The person happened to be a mommy blogger and then further professed her love for the brand by telling the story on her site. This is a great example of driving a loyal customer to greater advocacy. A friend of mine has this saying – “Luck is the residue of design.” In brand marketing, we are not comfortable leaving success up to luck, but certainly these customer surprises increase key advocacy metrics.
Think about your personal life. How nice is it when a friend does something special for you that is unexpected? Take you to lunch. Show up to give you a helping hand. Or simply send you a note to tell you how special you are. Doesn’t that make you feel good?
So if brands are looking to win the hearts of a target market, why wouldn’t that play to human emotion the same way? People expect to be advertised and sold to. If we want to go beyond and exceed their expectations, maybe it is as simple as not selling and not advertising as a start and reaching out to them in an engaging way. But you cannot stop there. Develop brand affinity and loyalty by a continuous user experience that has social integration.
Consider a social marketing strategy and execution as follows:
one that enhances your customers’ user experience,
is continuously engaging in a way that is beneficial to the targets,
over delivers to exceed customers’ expectations
provides pleasant surprises, and
produces uniqueness and carries some element or value not experienced elsewhere (certainly differentiated from the competition).
It is too often forgotten that development of brand social marketing should follow the same motivators that contribute personal relationship building. This means easing up on a corporate marketing feel in favor of a more personable approach. Work to evolve to this mentality and surprise your market segment.
Make It Happen!